The Sullivan group Executive Vice President and Director Hank Haldeman was named president of NAPSLO at the group’s recent conference in Atlanta. He took the time to speak with Insurance Business America
about his beginnings in insurance and his vision for the future of NAPSLO and surplus lines in general.
Q. How did you get into the insurance industry?
I did not start in insurance right out of college. I was in the business end of the music industry, which I did for a number of years before getting fairly disillusioned with the nature of that business and the way it was conducted—particularly in the 1970s.
I ended up running a music publishing company, screening new talent and helping to select music.
Around 1973 I decided to change careers. I had a friend who was in a fairly senior position with an insurance company, and we talked and became attracted to the wholesale end of the business. What really attracted me was that they did most of their business over the phone and with a handshake.
Q. What are your new priorities as president of NAPSLO?
My top priorities first and foremost are continuation and expansion of the wholesale value campaign—messaging to retail commercial agents and insurance buyers of the value that wholesalers and surplus lines channels brings to insurance transactions.
Beyond that, the focus on recruiting new talent into the wholesale and surplus lines ranks is a high priority as well. We’ve done a great job of setting a foundation of recruitment from colleges and we’re in the process of expanding that fairly significantly through outreach to other insurance programs and into other recruiting centers in various universities.
Q. Will your presidency mark any kind of departure from past NAPSLO leadership?
Not really. The four core areas of activity and value proposition to our members remain the same—improving the NAPSLO conference, adding classes to our education efforts, continuing state-based advocacy and expanding the reach of the wholesale value campaign.
Q. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing the industry?
Our two greatest challenges are also our greatest opportunities. First is the challenge of effectively communicating to retail commercial agents the value of a wholesale broker in a transaction. It’s a smart broker that accesses additional expertise through surplus lines—that’s our core message that is not as broadly recognized today as we think it out to be.
The other threat is recruitment. We have got to get out and do an even better job of recruiting new talent into this segment of the insurance business. The failure to do that is our greatest threat.